Hastings Prince Edward Public Health (HPEPH) has issued a warning after a sudden spike in suspected opioid-related poisonings occurred in Belleville on Nov. 1. Hastings Quinte Paramedic Services responded to over 20 opioid-related calls for assistance in Belleville, with the Belleville Police Services reporting at least 10 suspected opioid-related poisonings within a two-hour period on the same day. Similar reports from community partners have confirmed this alarming trend, marking an unexpected surge in drug poisonings in the region.
Dr. Ethan Toumishey, the Medical Officer of Health at HPEPH, expressed concern about the unusually high number of suspected drug poisonings in the area.
“Local reports of suspected drug poisonings are significantly higher than usual in our region,” Toumishey stated. “While we do not have confirmation on the substances contributing to these drug poisonings, it’s important that people who use drugs take steps to reduce their risk. If you use drugs, don’t use alone and have at least one naloxone kit on hand. To reduce your risk of drug poisoning, avoid mixing drugs, and try a small amount first.”
HPEPH is currently investigating this sudden increase in drug poisonings, with preliminary data suggesting a possible connection to brown fentanyl. As a precautionary measure, HPEPH is urging individuals who use drugs to exercise extra caution by refraining from mixing substances, testing small amounts first, and ensuring they have at least one naloxone kit readily available. It is crucial to have someone present who can administer naloxone and to call 9-1-1 in the event of an overdose. For those who find themselves alone, the National Overdose Response Service can be contacted 24/7 at 1-888-688-6677, where someone will stay on the line until help arrives.
Community partners working with individuals who use drugs are strongly advised to inform their clients about these essential precautions. HPEPH continues to monitor the situation closely, emphasizing the importance of harm reduction practices to mitigate the risks associated with opioid use in the region.